For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16
John 3:16 is without a doubt the most famous bible verse in the entire bible. The main reason for this is that there is so much powerful truth packed into this one verse. Of course Jesus spoke these words in a conversation he had with a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night seeking to gain a better understanding of Jesus. Nicodemus recognized that Jesus’ teaching and the miraculous things he was doing was evidence that God was with Jesus. Jesus immediately turned this conversation to Nicodemus’ need to be “born again.” This whole concept was very confusing to Nicodemus...as it might be to anyone who was unfamiliar with Jesus' story.
Jesus’ powerful words truly explain what is required to be born again, and it begins with God. All of us were dead in our sins and without hope until God put his redemptive plan into action. This plan was driven by God’s love for the people and the world he created. God saw that his creation was tainted by sin and there was no hope unless he himself intervened. So God the Father gave the very best. He gave his only son Jesus Christ to the world. The work that Jesus completed during his time here on earth was the most important work that has ever been done. Jesus, being fully man and fully God, lived the perfect life that each one of us was incapable of living. Jesus never sinned and because of his sinless perfection he could be the substitutionary sacrifice for every sinner.
So everything up to this point has been God working his plan. We have done nothing to contribute to his plan. We have done nothing to warrant God even wanting to redeem us. It is simply God’s love driving him to put his plan of redemption into motion. All this happened over 2000 years ago but its effects are just as applicable to us today as they were in the beginning. Jesus tells Nicodemus that to be born again one simply has to believe in Jesus. But there is more to the type of belief necessary to claim the prize of eternal life. The demons believe in Jesus but they will not enjoy the glorious wonder of heaven because they continue to stand opposed to God and his work here on earth. They are in rebellion to God’s rule and authority. So what kind of belief is required?
The belief needed to claim the promises of God is a belief that includes our complete surrender. Unless and until we repent of our sins and surrender our lives to God we, like the demons, stand opposed to God and his kingdom. When we believe in Jesus and trust his finished work of redemption to pay for our sins, then all the blessings of God belong to us. God began his redemptive plan long before you were born, but you will not be the beneficiary of it until you are born again. Just as Jesus longed for Nicodemus to be born again, he longs for you to be a part of his kingdom. Have you been overcome by God’s pursuing love? Surrender your life to him today! If you have already surrendered then rejoice that God’s love found you and go tell someone else that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”